ACT residents are being encouraged to have their say about making child care more affordable, flexible and accessible as new analysis shows the ACT had the largest increase in enrolments in the nation.
The analysis coincides with the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning continuing its public hearings in Canberra today.
Federal Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley, who has responsibility for child care, said over 23,160 children were enrolled in formal approved child care services in the ACT during the September 2013 Quarter – a 69.2 per cent increase on September 2007 (13,690).
Despite this, the ACT was one of only two states and territories to experience a drop in the number of hours of child care families used per week, showing the need for more affordable, flexible and accessible child care options, Ms Ley said.
Ms Ley said it was a timely reminder for ACT residents to have their say on the Productivity Commission’s draft report before submissions closed September 5.
“Child care is playing more and more of an important role in the lives of ACT residents, as well as the development of our children and economy alike,” she said.
“As such, we’ve seen the number of children enrolled in child care in the ACT increase by almost 70 per cent in six years and that demand continues to grow.
“However, the cost of child care has also become increasingly unaffordable for ACT families after fees skyrocketed 53 per cent during the same six year period under Labor.
“This is clearly having an impact on the number of hours of child care ACT families can afford to access per week, which, in turn, reduces workforce participation opportunities, particularly for women.”
Ms Ley said this was backed up by the Productivity Commission Inquiry’s draft report, which found: “the affordability of childcare was the most commonly reported barrier to workforce participation for parents with children under 5 years old”.
Ms Ley said access to flexible child care options and waiting lists also tended to be issues faced by families.
“ACT families should be able to plan child care around their work life, not their work life around child care,” she said.
“The Abbott Government is committed to making child care more affordable, flexible and accessible for ACT families.
“That’s why we tasked this Productivity Commission Inquiry – the first major review of the child care system since the 1990s – as one of our first priorities in government.
“The Productivity Commission Inquiry has now released their draft report for discussion and I encourage Canberrans to have their say before submissions close September 5.”
The Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Learning received more than 1160 submissions during its first round of consultation – including more than 460 formal submissions and 700 brief online comments – which were then used to inform its draft report.
Submissions lodged during the current round of consultation will be used to inform the Productivity Commission’s final report, which is due to be handed to the Government in late October 2014.
ACT had the highest percentage increase in the number of families enrolled in formal approved child care in the nation in the six years between Sept 2007 and Sept 2013 (62.6%).
ACT had the highest percentage increase in the number of children enrolled in formal approved child care in the nation in the six years between Sept 2007 and Sept 2013 (69.2%)
Despite this, ACT was only one of two states and territories in the nation to experience a drop in the average number of hours of child care used per week by families in the six years between Sept 2007 and Sept 2013.
The ACT had the lowest drop (-7.0%) in the nation, followed by the Northern Territory (-3.9%), taking the ACT from having the third highest usage in the nation in Sept 2007 (24.6 hours per week) to the third lowest in the nation in Sept 2013 (22.9 hours per week).